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Abstract :

Astrocytes comprise the major non-neuronal cell population in the mammalian neurovascular unit. Traditionally, astrocytes are known to play broad roles in central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis, including the management of extracellular ion balance and pH, regulation of neurotransmission, and control of cerebral blood flow and metabolism. After CNS injury, cell–cell signaling between neuronal, glial, and vascular cells contribute to repair and recovery in the neurovascular unit. In this mini-review, we propose the idea that astrocytes play a central role in organizing these signals. During CNS recovery, reactive astrocytes communicate with almost all CNS cells and peripheral progenitors, resulting in the promotion of neurogenesis and angiogenesis, regulation of inflammatory response, and modulation of stem/progenitor response. Reciprocally, changes in neurons and vascular components of the remodeling brain should also influence astrocyte signaling. Therefore, understanding the complex and interdependent signaling pathways of reactive astrocytes after CNS injury may reveal fundamental mechanisms and targets for re-integrating the neurovascular unit and augmenting brain recovery.